Pectoral Sandpiper: 21 Facts You Won’t Believe!

Pectoral sandpiper facts about the medium sized bird species native to North America.

Pectoral sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) are birds that are medium in size and are stout. These birds have bills that are fairly thick based and wings that are long. The male pectoral sandpiper is larger and 50% heavier in weight compared to the female pectoral sandpiper.  Adult pectoral sandpipers are brown, gold, and black above and their belly is white in color. Their legs are yellowish in color. These birds are found in different habitats and their migration patterns take them across different parts of the world such as North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. During migration, they eat small crustaceans and other aquatic animals.  

This bird species from family Scolopacidae can be spotted along with similar species like a curlew sandpiper and least sandpiper, with help of a range map and bird guide over their breeding grounds in North America and South America. Here are some of the most fascinating facts about the pectoral sandpiper (Calidris melanotos) for your perusal. Afterwards, do check out our other articles on least sandpiper and purple sandpiper as well.

Pectoral Sandpiper

Fact File

What do they prey on?

Flies, fly larvae, and spiders

What do they eat?


Average litter size?

3-4 eggs

How much do they weigh?

0.17 lb (0.07 kg)

How long are they?

8.3 in (21 cm)

How tall are they?

18 in (45 cm) (wingspan)

What do they look like?

Dark brown body with yellow legs, slightly curved bill, pale at the base, dense breast streaking, and a white belly

Skin Type


What are their main threats?

Disturbance, direct mortality, habitat loss, and pollution

What is their conservation status?

Least Concern

Where you'll find them

Dry edges of the well vegetated wetlands


North America, Australia, New Zealand, and South America





Scientific Name

Calidris melanotos





Pectoral Sandpiper Interesting Facts

What type of animal is a pectoral sandpiper?

Pectoral sandpiper is a type of bird that is medium in size and adults are larger in body size compared to the females. They are medium migratory birds and breed across different parts of the world. These birds also protect their eggs from the cool breezes of the breeding grounds where they breed.

What class of animal does a pectoral sandpiper belong to?

Pectoral sandpiper belongs to the family Scolopacidae. Their body is gray and dark brown in color with a white belly, and the color of their feathers differs in winters and summers. Some of the most well known similar species to these long distance flying birds are curlew sandpiper and least sandpiper.

How many pectoral sandpipers are there in the world?

There is no accurate and rough number so as to how many pectoral sandpipers (family Scolopacidae) there are in the world. The number of pectoral sandpipers differs based on different factors such as pollution, habitat loss, and threats to their life. Some of these birds winter in Australasia but the preferred winter habitat range in South America.

Where does a pectoral sandpiper live?

If you wish to locate these birds across their habitat range in North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand, then you better get hold of a bird guide and range map. Most members of this species breed across the grassy wetlands and wet meadows of the Arctic tundra, while these birds make use of other wetland habitats during migration and winter.

What is a pectoral sandpiper's habitat?

The natural habitat for this bird species from order Charadriiformes spans across North America, South America, Australia, and New Zealand. This species nests in wet and grassy tundra located near coastal areas. Migrants and wintering population of these birds select grassy wetlands for constructing their nest.

Who do pectoral sandpiper live with?

Pectoral sandpipers from order Charadriiformes like to live alone and come together only during the mating season with the females. Once the sandpiper mating process is complete, the female incubates the eggs alone as the male pectoral sandpiper does not play any role in the incubation duties.

How long does a pectoral sandpiper live?

Pectoral sandpiper species usually have a lifespan of around five years which depends on various factors. Some pectoral sandpipers live for a short span of time whereas some birds of this species live for a long period of time based on different factors.

How do they reproduce?

The breeding process for these birds involves mating between multiple males and females in the Arctic tundra. When the female pectoral sandpiper arrives, males then attract them towards them with the help of display flights, and then expand rhythmically and then contract the air sacs that are present in their breasts. After the mating between the makes and females is completed during the breeding season, the females lay around three to four eggs. The incubation then continues for 20-24 days in which the males do not play any role. After the eggs hatch, the young pectoral sandpipers stay in the nest till they are ready to fledge.  

What is their conservation status?

The conservation status of the pectoral sandpiper is of Least Concern as the population of these North American birds is stable and faces no threats in terms of conservation at present. The only threat to the population of these North American birds is habitat loss and climate change. You can track these birds with a streaked breast during migration with help of a range map and bird guide.

Pectoral Sandpiper Fun Facts

What do pectoral sandpipers look like?

Pectoral sandpipers are brown in color, gold, and black on the upper side and have a white belly with dark brown rows of stipples on their breast. The juvenile pectoral sandpiper is similar as compared to adults but they have some rusty edged feathers. Their legs are yellowish in color and the bill is slightly downcurved.

Pectoral sandpipers are known for their bizarre hooting flight display over the Arctic tundra.

How cute are they?

Pectoral sandpipers are very cute in appearance because of their color pattern and also because of their size. These birds with streaked breasts look absolutely adorable when males perform an unforgettable display flight during the breeding season.

How do they communicate?

Pectoral sandpipers communicate with the help of a series of hollow hoots and it is also known to be the most unusual sound that is heard in summer in the arctic tundra. They also have an inflatable air sac in the breast that expands and then contrasts rhythmically during their display flights.

How big is a pectoral sandpiper?

Pectoral sandpipers are medium in size as compared to the other species of birds. Males are larger in size as compared to females. Their range of size is around 8.3 in (21 cm) while the wingspan is around 18 in (45 cm).

How fast can a pectoral sandpiper fly?

There is no mention of any accurate speed as to how fast a pectoral sandpiper can fly. They tend to fly fast when they see their predators approaching them.

How much does a pectoral sandpiper weigh?

The pectoral sandpiper weight is around 0.17 lb (0.07 kg).  

What are the male and female names of the species?

There is no accurate name for male and female species of pectoral sandpipers. Therefore, they are known as male pectoral sandpiper and female pectoral sandpiper only.

What would you call a baby pectoral sandpiper?

There is no specific name for a baby pectoral sandpiper. They are known as young pectoral sandpipers.

What do they eat?

Pectoral sandpipers eat flies and spiders, larvae, and also seeds with their curved bill. During the season of their migration in winter, these young northern shorebirds also eat aquatic invertebrates and small crustaceans.

The known predators of these birds include weasels, mink, crows, hawks, and gulls.

Are they dangerous?

Due to its small size, this shorebird species is not regarded as dangerous.

Would they make a good pet?

No, these young northern shorebirds are not good pets as these breeding birds are wild animals and do not like interacting with humans. Also in some places, this shorebird is illegal to own, capture, kill, or harass.

Did you know...

Sandpipers look and sound totally different during summer when they sing or call out to other fellows.

The name sandpiper comes from the voice of these birds rather than from their probing in the sand.

Sanderlings are also a species of sandpiper from the genus Calidris.

Long billed curlew resembles the sandpiper in appearance.

Do sandpipers go underwater?

These northern shorebirds can go underwater. They not only go underwater but also dive to some depth in escaping from an enemy.

What is a flock of sandpipers called?

A flock of these northern shorebirds is called a bind, contradiction, fling, a hill, or a time step.

Here at Kidadl, we have carefully created lots of interesting family friendly animal facts for everyone to discover! For more relatable content, check out these American oystercatcher facts and little egret facts pages.

You can even occupy yourself at home by coloring in one of our pectoral sandpiper coloring pages.



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